Interview with Gwydion and Catrin Lewis, Current Managers of Bryn-y-Groes
After a decade of service, Gwydion and Catrin Lewis will be saying goodbye to Bryn-y-Groes in 2023. As the EMW starts the search for new managers, here’s a taste of the past decade’s activity and a glimpse into the everyday life of the current management.
Tell us something about Bryn-y-groes and the type of events that are held there.
Perhaps you would be surprised to hear us say that there is nothing special about Bryn-y-groes! But there is something very special about what goes on here, about the people that come here, and about the God that is central in all that happens here.
Bryn-y-groes is an attractive building in Bala, in attractive gardens, in an area of outstanding beauty. There is a traditional main house, with various meeting rooms and bedrooms of various sizes which can accommodate up to 50 people. There is a sports cabin which is very popular during camps. Since 2019 there is also a new building, called Bryn Uchaf, which has additional bedrooms and a multipurpose room which can be used also as self-catering self-contained accommodation for up to 25 people. There is also a small self-contained flat called Noddfa.
A variety of events are held here. The majority of the readers will be aware of the summer camps, but perhaps they wouldn’t know that the centre is used throughout the year. We host conferences for ministers and students, courses for schools, holidays for Christians and weekends for churches.
What’s the nature of your role in Bryn-y-groes?
We are managers, but this might give you the impression that it is a business-like role. We do look after the administrative side of the centre, but we also look after the house and gardens, the guests and the staff and volunteers. There is a creative side to the work as well as a spiritual side. On some days we will be in the office, and on other days we will be working in the grounds, or doing maintenance work in the house! Sometimes the site is full of the noise of visitors that need feeding and looking after, and sometimes the place is empty and quiet, giving us the chance to crack on with other tasks.
What have you learnt during your time at Bryn-y-groes?
That’s a difficult question! When we started working here nearly ten years ago, we both felt inexperienced and fearful. There were times when we felt that we were only just keeping our heads about water. We have learnt that prayers is essential and that God provides. He is the one who gives all gifts, all strength, all ability and all wisdom. At times we felt that we had come to the end of our tether, but God renewed our strength and helped us to solve problems – beyond our natural capability.
We have also learnt to trust God’s providence. Thankfully he has been kind to us in so many ways. Even when problems arose, we can look back and trace God’s faithfulness in it all. Our God is good always.
Say something about the ethos of Bryn-y-groes
We aim to give a warm welcome in the name of our Saviour, by creating a homely, safe, generous and warm atmosphere, which reflects Christ’s love. We hope that people feel that they can kick off their shoes, put their slippers on, relax and enjoy fellowship with brothers and sisters. People will hopefully feel that their week at Bryn-y-groes is the most important week of the year for us.
Day to day life is hectic for the majority of people, and we feel that there is something valuable about coming away from routine, having time in God’s Word and with his people.
Can you mention some highlights from this last decade?
Although it’s been hard work, we have enjoyed it very much, and we count it a real privilege that EMW have trusted us to look after Bryn-y-groes. Our contribution has been behind the scenes at most events, but we have felt real satisfaction in knowing that we have enabled these events to be held, and that God, in his mercy, has blessed and saved people at Bryn-y-groes.
We have met so many dear people during our time here – this is what stands out. We have loved getting to know the mature Christians that attend Spring Break, Autumn Break and Hafan. They have faithfully lived the Christian life and are still thrilled by the Gospel. Another highlight is the vitality of the youth and students. It’s been a real blessing to see their desire to grow in the faith and to testify to their friends. We love hearing the singing during the Ministers’ Conference. Our prayers is that God has blessed them here and that he would build his church through them.
On a personal note, we will have many fond memories from having the privilege of calling Bryn-y-groes our home. It has been a beautiful place to live and we have enjoyed the grounds and nature – we will miss this place and the work.